Above: Former Army Staff Sgt. Ross Cox speaks to hundreds of children and their parents at the Super Kids Camp on Friday. Cox worked as an Army recruiter in Dumas from 2005 to 2008 and then returned to the infantry after he had an opportunity to leave the military. His left foot was blown off after he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan during his third deployment. (Steve Ramos/Moore County Journal)
by Steve Ramos
Seven years after former Army Staff Sgt. Ross Cox moved away from Dumas, and four years after his left foot was blown off when he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan, he walked to the front of the packed Moore County Community Building and told several hundred energized children to grow their faith in God and stand firm in it.
The children, 660 of them, took part in the week-long Super Kids Camp, and although Cox spoke to them for only a few minutes, his message rang out with his philosophy of duty, honor and the conviction that God is always in your corner.
“I put a lot of kids in the military from this community,” he said later, referring to the three years he worked as an Army recruiter in Dumas. “I had a chance to get out of the military at that time, but I didn’t think it would be right. I went back into the infantry.”
It was on his third deployment in 2011 that he stepped on the IUD. He spent two years in therapy and then medically retired.
“I wouldn’t change a thing,” he said. “If I had to do it all over again, I would.”
In a USA Today article, Ross said his “right leg shattered out.”
“My calf was completely destroyed on my right side,” he said. “My bone was shattered. It wasn’t broken, it was shattered into a bunch of little bones.”
But his faith in God wasn’t shattered, he told the young people.
The Rev. Frank Gordoa, senior pastor of Cornerstone City Church and one of the camp organizers and leaders, also had a story of triumph over adversity. He said he spent his high school years at Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch, sent there with the hope it would help straighten out a life that was going down a road of drugs and crime. And it did.
Gordoa and his wife began the Kids Camp in Dumas 10 years ago with about 100 children, and it’s grown to six times that many.
“What we want to do is give kids who for whatever reason can’t go to camp a camp experience,” Gordoa said. “My wife and I started this program when we were missionaries in Europe.”
At what was the camp finale, the children sang and performed for their parents and the community. Sprinkled among them, teenage leaders took part, too.
“A lot of them went through the camp over the years and became team leaders,” Gordoa said. “We have 50 teams, and one of the things that moves us is when the kids tell us they want to grow up and be leaders.”
Gordoa said that one of the camp’s goals is to instill in the children that desire to become future leaders.
“When our children want to be leaders, we know we’re doing something right for them and for our communities.”
Gordoa said the camp is an interdenominational endeavor with several area churches contributing to the event, and businesses and organizations also pitched in. He said this year was special because the camp recognized military members.
“It’s because of their sacrifice we remain free and have opportunities to provide our children with the best our nation has to offer,” he said.